It was as a Captain in one of the Israeli army’s elite squads that I first learnt about leadership and management. And these skills were crucial when, as their youngest serving officer, I was part of Operation Entebbe, a counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission in Uganda on 4 July 1976, and together, we were fortunately able to save many lives.
Having gained my first degree in computer sciences and engineering from the Technion in Israel, I moved to London and founded Isys, a distance-learning and IT services company, which I sold to Alchemy Capital. In 1994, I established ‘Panorama’ in Israel, an Online Analytical Processing Technology company which was sold to Microsoft in 1996. In 2000, I established Healthcare Learning, an internet-based training service for healthcare professionals.
Circle Sq. is my latest start-up venture. It all started in 2017, when my business partner, Nick Viner, and I came up with the idea of helping people over the age of 50 to continue with purposeful lives, with the goal of harnessing our collective wisdom and experiences to help society at large.
One of my motivations for this venture came about because of my diagnosis in 2014 with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare chronic liver disease. Prior to this, I’d always been fit and taken my health seriously – I’d cycled to work for 25 years, enjoyed swimming and running, and spent my summers hiking in our favourite part of the world, the Swiss Alps. Suddenly, I was seriously ill and awaiting a liver transplant (having been told my chances were slim due to my rare blood type).
After a possible match failed, my son volunteered to be tested for compatibility. Turns out, he was the perfect match I’d needed all along. But live donor operations are high-risk, carrying a 1 in 500 mortality risk, as well as additional complications. In early January 2016, we arrived at the hospital with a film crew from the Guardian waiting for us – the most frightening situation my family had ever faced needed to be captured to help others on a similar journey (you can watch the clip here). After a 20 hour back-to-back operation, remarkably we recovered fully, and we shall be forever grateful for the excellent care I received, and still do, from the Royal Free Hospital.
Two life-changing experiences (one ‘saving lives’, the other ‘my life being saved’) meant confronting my fears and vulnerability, leading me to understand what really matters. Circle Square is a culmination of this – it embodies the attributes for a healthy and happy long life:
- To be physically active
- To be intellectually curious
- To have an active social life
Working together with Nick, who is a serious thinker, strategist and can transform ideas into reality, we’re passionate about creating this new community of interesting, experienced 50+ professionals who enjoy the stimulation of being together. We attract members who enjoy purposeful lives and seek different ways to give back to society.
For me, it’s about living a fulfilling life. I don’t do anything anymore which I don’t enjoy. Of course it doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard but I’m driven to help others find fulfillment as they navigate the next chapter/s in their life.
- What 3 words best describe you?
Generous, original, creative
- If you could offer your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?
Don’t waste your amazing abilities and passion on projects that are not meaningful and enjoyable.
- What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
I was fortunate in my past to save peoples lives and now at Circle Square I’m on the way to enhancing people’s lives.
- Which person (dead or alive) would you most like to invite to dinner?
Amos Oz (unfortunately dead) and Professor Yuval Noah Harari
- How has age strengthened your advantage?
With age, you are gaining experience; with experience you are gaining wisdom.